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Nebraska's Bowl Hopes Ride on the Arm of Tanner Lee


If Nebraska wants to go to a bowl game it must do no worse than spilt its remaining four games. The Cornhuskers (4-4, 3-2 Big Ten) are set to host Northwestern on Saturday and then will finish with road games at Minnesota and Penn State before coming back home to face Iowa on Black Friday.

As tumultuous as Nebraska’s season has been and with the likelihood of major changes to come, managing at least six wins and going to a bowl would be quite the accomplishment. The Huskers still need two wins to become bowl eligible, however, and whether that happens or not could come down to one player – quarterback Tanner Lee.

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Lee’s stats may not jump off of the page at first glance, but the transfer from Tulane is second in the Big Ten in passing (267.5 ypg) and fourth in touchdown passes (15). More importantly, Lee is coming off of arguably his best game of the season against Purdue in which he completed 32 of 50 attempts (64 percent) for 431 yards and two touchdowns in Nebraska’s 25-24 road win.

In fact, Lee has performed very well in his last two games, including the blowout loss to Ohio State. Against the Buckeyes, he threw for 303 yards and two scores with no interceptions. Although the Huskers were no match for Ohio State in that game, when Lee has played well it usually leads to good things.

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Tanner Lee's Stats

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The key here is obviously the touchdown-to-interception ratio, but it also should be pointed out that three of Nebraska’s top four games in terms of total offense this season have come in wins. To put it simply, the Huskers need their quarterback to continue his strong play if they want to pick up those two all-important victories.

Statistically speaking, Nebraska’s remaining schedule is a push when it comes to defensive matchups. While Minnesota and Penn State rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Big Ten in passing defense, both Iowa (11th) and Northwestern (13th) have had their issues in that department. This also means that Lee’s toughest tests, at least on paper, will happen on the road. Does this set him up for more success in Memorial Stadium? Only time will tell.

The reality is that Lee can’t single-handedly win the two games the Huskers need to go bowling, as the running game and defense will have to do their parts. However, should Lee continue his strong play from the pocket it should only help put Nebraska in a position to make something positive come out of what has otherwise been a frustrating season.

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)